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Feynan Eco-lodge announced as finalist in National Geographic's World Legacy Awards

By Hana Namrouqa - Nov 06,2014 - Last updated at Nov 06,2014

AMMAN — National Geographic has announced Feynan Eco-lodge as a finalist in its World Legacy Awards in the Engaging Communities category, which recognises direct and tangible economic and social benefits that improve local livelihoods. 

These include training and capacity building, fair wages and benefits, community development, healthcare and education.

The 15 finalists were announced last week at the ITB Asia event in Singapore and the winners will be announced in March next year, according to the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN), which owns Feynan Eco-lodge, located in its Dana Biosphere Reserve.

The World Legacy Awards, a new initiative of the National Geographic Society, honours companies, organisations and destinations — ranging from airlines and hotels, to communities and countries – that are driving the positive transformation of the tourism industry, showcasing leaders and visionaries in sustainable tourism best practices, and sharing their stories with millions of today's travellers, according to the National Geographic website.

The five World Legacy Award categories are: Earth Changers, Sense of Place, Conserving the Natural World, Engaging Communities and Destination Leadership.

Feynan Eco-lodge was announced as a finalist in the Engaging Communities category, along with Mukul Resort in Nicaragua and Tropic Journeys in Nature in Ecuador, according to National Geographic.

On its website, National Geographic said Feynan Eco-lodge has served as a model for sustainable development in the Middle East region by incorporating the local community as direct economic beneficiaries through responsible tourism, ensuring that their cultural heritage is preserved.

“All staff at Feynan are from rural bedouin communities who have been trained in hospitality management, with ongoing training and capacity building providing opportunities to learn English and computer skills,” National Geographic said on the website.

It added that transportation at the eco-lodge is also provided entirely by local residents, and 80 per cent of the lodge supplies come from nearby communities to advance local economic benefits. 

“The Feynan guest experience provides a unique opportunity to learn about authentic bedouin culture and participate in local bedouin traditions.”

RSCN Director General Yehya Khaled said Feynan Eco-lodge was named as a finalist due as its projects benefit local communities in the Dana reserve.

He added that the eco-lodge addresses the limited income-generating opportunities for Dana’s local communities, which still live the traditional bedouin life.

Feynan Eco-lodge directly benefits over 80 families (400 people) in the area. 

It purchases products from local businesses and houses two onsite workshops that employ local women to make candles and leather handicrafts that are used and sold at the lodge, according to the RSCN

In 2013, over 50 per cent of the money spent by tourists at Feynan stayed within the local community, according to the website of EcoHotels, the company managing the property.

World Legacy Award winners and finalists will receive coverage in National Geographic Traveller and other National Geographic print and digital media, reaching a global audience.

In 2013, the Traveller magazine named Feynan as one of the top 25 eco-lodges in the world and in 2011 it was "highly commended" in the Responsible Tourism Awards for poverty reduction.

Established in 2005 by the RSCN, the 26-room candle-lit lodge has been managed by EcoHotels since 2009. It is located in Dana Biosphere Reserve, the only reserve in Jordan that includes the four different bio-geographical zones of the country: Mediterranean, Irano-Turanian, Saharo Arabian and Sudanian penetration.

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